IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot at scene where Hamas tunnel was uncovered in the south.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Current and former education ministers Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa’ar called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take action to deal with the threat of tunnels from the Gaza Strip following Monday’s revelation of a new terror tunnel.
Bennett and Sa’ar will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on May 22.
Sa’ar, speaking at a ceremony in which he received honorary citizenship of Yeroham, criticized the government for suggesting that Hamas had been deterred since Operation Protective Edge ended in August 2014.
“Talk of deterring Hamas was an attempt to mislead the public,” Sa’ar said. “Under the guise of temporary calm, Hamas is digging attack tunnels into Israeli territory. Hamas is arming itself for the next round. When seeing such things, it is important to reach the right conclusions and shift from talk to action.”
Bennett said Hamas defined tunnel-digging as a “national project,” with the goal of infiltrating Israel.”
“It’s a national goal for them, and it’s time we internalize that,” he said.
The minister said Hamas strives to hit Israel with “a surprise multi-faceted attack – a sort of ‘Yom Kippur’ scenario of terrorism” that will weave in elements of infiltration, kidnapping and murder.
“It is Israel’s duty to restore a sense of security to citizens of the South, and prevent this from happening – at any price,” Bennett said. “Israel can’t count on the assumption that Hamas is deterred.”
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman responded to the reports that a tunnel from the Gaza Strip to Israel was uncovered by the IDF.
“The recently uncovered tunnel is a hard blow to Israel – and further proof that the leadership of Netanyahu and [Defense Minister Moshe] Ya’alon enables Hamas to continue building up its resources and grow stronger, endangering the lives of citizens of the South and the security of Israel,” Liberman said. “This probably isn’t the only cross-border tunnel that infiltrates Israel. If our policy doesn’t change, Hamas will continue digging and arming itself – threatening our security.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said the shaft that was uncovered had only one aim – to facilitate the murder of innocent women and children in Israel.
“The United Nations Security Council and the international community must understand that the tunnel threat is as significant and destructive as the threat from rockets and other terrorist attacks,” Lapid said.
“The world must support the Israeli response to the tunnel threat which amounts to a ground invasion of Israel.”
Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, who formerly served as the head of the Eshkol Regional Council and is a resident of the Gaza border kibbutz of Nahal Oz, called on Israel to work to destroy such tunnels, while advancing a diplomatic initiative on a parallel track.
“This tunnel must be destroyed immediately, we shouldn’t wait, we should destroy every tunnel that enters Israel. To destroy every tunnel that we know they have started to build, just as we assassinate terrorist cells that are set to fire rockets into Israel.”
Jelin said that Hamas must be stopped from digging tunnels, calling on Netanyahu to act.
“Mr. Prime Minister, this is your responsibility. We are strong and prepared to take a lot, on one condition: that there will be a diplomatic horizon for the whole region,” Jelin said.
“You need to hit them before they come out of the ground, and at the same time to initiate a long-term ‘hudna’ agreement with the moderate Arab states, the US and Europe,” he said, using the Arabic word for truce.